Ship Captain Narrates Capture of Suspected Pirates
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
February 16, 2006
Posted to the web February 15, 2006

By Willis Oketch

Details of how American marines captured 10 suspected Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean last month emerged in a Mombasa court on Wednesday.

A witness narrated how US marines fired missiles that destroyed one of three boats that were being used by the alleged pirates to terrorise merchant ships off the Somali coast.

Captain Akbarali Suleiman Shad, of Mv Safina Al Bisarat - an Indian ship that had been hijacked and was rescued by the marines - said US soldiers fired at the boats after recovering lethal weapons from it.

Shad said the destroyed boat was the biggest of the three. He said before the pirates were captured, the US soldiers ordered them to surrender failure to which the ship would be sunk. He said the pirates locked their hostages in the ship cabin before surrendering. The suspects were later flown to Mombasa for trial.

Shad, who was giving evidence before Senior Principal Magistrate Beatrice Thuranira Jaden, was in the dock for the second day. He testified through a Gujarati interpreter, Mr M J Jagani.

The suspects, Hassan Mohamed Ahmed, Diwan Maalim Abdulahi, Abdikadir Labwale Warsame, Hussein Noor Ali, Liban Abdi, Mohamed Abdi Fitah, Mohamud Mohamed Hassan and Mukhtar Mohamed Hassan, heard the proceedings through a Somali interpreter.

They have denied that on January 16, in the Indian Ocean, they hijacked 16 crew aboard Mv Safina, which was sailing to Dubai from Kismayu, and demanded Sh3.5 million in ransom.

US soldiers are among witnesses expected to testify.

Hearing continues on Thursday.